HMRC reveals the worst excuses for tardy tax returns

With the self-assessment deadline now just a few weeks away, officials at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have revealed some of the more ludicrous excuses for failing to file returns on time.

One taxpayer claimed that his paperwork had been left in a shed and had been eaten by a rat, while another cited IT trouble – specifically that her husband had run over her laptop.

Another individual blamed their tardiness on a slovenly niece, who had made their house so untidy that it had proven impossible to find the log-in details.

Rather unsurprisingly, these tall tales did not impress the tax authority and the appeals were subsequently thrown out.

While claims made by some taxpayers may stretch credibility to breaking point HMRC hope that the list of bizarre excuses circulated today will serve as a timely reminder for people not to fall behind with their affairs.

The deadline for sending 2014-15 tax returns and paying any tax that is owed, is January 31st.

Ruth Owen, HMRC’s director general of personal tax, said: “Untidy family members and hungry pets are very unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate excuse for completing your tax return late.

“We understand that life can be unpredictable and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the January 31st deadline, such as the flooding, help is on hand.

“My advice would be to contact us through our helplines or online, as soon as possible. But for those who are trying to play the system, while the rest of us do the right thing, the message is clear: submit your tax return online [in time for the deadline] or face a fine.”